Spain profited from Martin Dubravka’s goalkeeping howler and then turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0 and book their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020.
Luis Enrique’s men required a win in Wednesday’s clash to guarantee progression after drawing their first two games and they were given a huge helping hand by Dubravka.
The Slovakia keeper saved an Alvaro Morata penalty early on – the fifth in a row Spain have missed – before comically flapping the ball into his own net with half an hour played.
That put Spain on their way to an emphatic win, the first time they have ever scored five times in a European Championship match.
Aymeric Laporte’s first international goal made it two before the break and strikes from Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres, plus Juraj Kucka’s own goal, made certain of victory after the interval.
Spain were awarded a penalty inside the first 12 minutes after VAR intervened and adjudged Jakub Hromada fouled Koke when attempting to clear the ball.
Dubravka dived to his right and got two hands to the powerful attempt but, after chances went begging for Sarabia and Pedri, the keeper went from hero to zero.
Sarabia’s long-range shot looped into the air after striking the crossbar and Dubravka, under a bit of pressure from Morata, inexplicably pushed the ball into his own net.
Dubravka could have done better for Spain’s second goal, too, as Gerard Moreno beat the marauding keeper to a ball and crossed for Laporte to head into the top-right corner.
Spain were in complete control of the game when Sarabia swept home Jordi Alba’s pass into the bottom-right corner with 56 minutes on the clock.
Slovakia still had a chance of advancing as one of the best third-placed sides, but substitute Torres flicked Sarabia’s cross past Dubravka just 44 seconds after entering the pitch and Kucka knocked the ball into his own net soon after for Spain’s fifth.
What does it mean? Spain get lift-off – but miss out on top spot
Group E was wide open heading into the final round of matches and it served up a dramatic conclusion, with Sweden grabbing top spot courtesy of a last-gasp 3-2 win against Poland in a game that saw them squander a two-goal lead.
Despite this impressive win for Spain, which was the joint-largest margin of victory by any side in a European Championship match, they must settle for second place and a last-16 tie with World Cup 2018 runners-up Croatia in Copenhagen next Monday.
Slovakia can no longer advance, but these set of results ensure that Ukraine are through to the knockout rounds, while Finland are left to wait on the outcome of Group F’s final two fixtures later on Wednesday to see if they will also make it through.
Dubravka’s helping hand
Only Dubravka himself will know exactly what he was attempting when helping the loose ball over the line for one of the European Championship’s most iconic own goals.
In doing so, he is the first keeper to save a penalty and score an own goal in the same Euros game. It is also the first time Spain have benefited from an OG in the competition, and they used that moment of fortune as a springboard to pick up a record-equalling victory.
Morata’s drought goes on
Morata has endured a pretty torrid tournament so far. He played a big part in a couple of Spain’s goals against Slovakia, but this performance will be remembered for his penalty miss.
He has had six shots on target so far at Euro 2020 without finding the net, including three in this win, which is the most of any player in the competition.
Key Opta Stats: Spain in elite company
– Spain equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the European Championships, becoming the fifth different side to win by five goals in the competition (after France and Denmark in 1984, the Netherlands in 2000 and Sweden in 2004).
– This was Spain’s 50th win at a major tournament (World Cup and Euros), becoming the fourth European side to reach this milestone of victories, after Germany, Italy and France.
– Since making his debut for the national side in October 2019, Gerard has been directly involved in 10 goals for Spain (five goals and five assists) – more than any other player for them in this period.
– Slovakia pair Dubravka and Kucka became the seventh and eighth players to score an own goal at Euro 2020 – indeed, the eight own goals at this tournament is as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined (8).
– Spain failed to score both of their penalties in the group stage at Euro 2020; the first team to fail to convert two penalties in a single tournament in the competition since the Netherlands in 2000.
Spain have five days to prepare for their last-16 clash with Croatia. Slovakia’s tournament is over, and they now have a little over two months before returning to action with a World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
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